vocation stories | JANEL

Ever since I was young, I’ve had the desire to help others. Growing up on a dairy farm in northeast Kansas, I wanted to be a veterinarian and then as time progressed and I realized the dignity of the human person I decided instead to be a doctor. As I enrolled at KU with this intention, I had no idea that God was about to upset my plans to transform them into His own: to make of me a doctor of souls. Knowing practically no one on the KU campus, I was excited to meet new people. I decided to start making new friends at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, where I went to Mass on Sundays more out of habit than conviction. The students involved at the Center changed my life. These joyful peers, in love with God, encouraged me to take theology classes, go on retreats, go to Daily Mass and even to begin a real relationship with God through daily prayer. I was attracted by their love for life and the constant joy and peace that emanated through their faces. I was searching for the happiness that they possessed and so I began to accept their invitations and to adopt their lifestyle.

When asked by one of the theology professors at St. Lawrence what I wanted most out of life, I replied, “To be happy.” Mike Scherschligt went on to tell me that happiness is actually holiness and holiness is union with God. He explained that we are all called to union with God that is sainthood, and that it is in doing God’s will that we attain this happiness=holiness. Thrilled about decoding the secret of happiness, my next question was “How do I discover God’s will for me?” Mike described vocational discernment and how the two paths of marriage and the consecrated life both lead to union with God. It was now up to me to ask God which path He had designed for me and I started praying with much enthusiasm to ask God to reveal to me the deepest desire of my heart.

Just a few months later, in the fall of my sophomore year (October 2003), God did uncover the mystery of my vocation. I had just returned from the investiture ceremony of my good friend who had out of the blue decided to enter a religious order on the east coast. I was very struck by the synthesis of a profound joy and yet, the humanity of the nine girls who were about to unite themselves completely to Christ. After witnessing these happy young women who desired consecration to Jesus more than anything in the world, I realized that fulfillment in this way of life was actually possible. The following morning, when in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, I understood these deep realities of the religious life. I was sure it was my way too. I found that I desire nothing other than to give up my life to Christ to be fully united with Him; I feel so strongly His love for me that the consecrated life is the only possible response.

At the time of the discovery of my vocation, I was just getting to know the Apostles. The crazy Italian sisters had just arrived at the St. Lawrence Center and they were making waves by enhancing the spiritual formation of us students. I began spiritual direction with Sr. Tiziana who led me through a journey of growing to know myself better in order to choose the religious community that was right for me. As the year unraveled, my esteem for the Apostles and especially for their unique spiritual apostolate grew immensely. I entered the house of formation in June 2004 and I had the immense joy of professing my first vows on December 8, 2007.